My View: Critics of health-care reform are blowing hot air
July 22, 2013
We are a country that is besieged by a political war on health care consumers. It is clear on whose side is the GOP: it is not us, the patients and the potential patients. We, the end user of health care, are collateral damage to political battles over how to repair a sick system that leaves so many out and bankrupts many, with the prognosis it will get sicker.
The GOP is dedicated and determined to repeal Obamacare or terminally delay it. They want you to forget what a consumer oriented piece of legislation it is.
The current GOP hollering is all about 2014 talking points in individual races. The campaign to repeal Obamacare is a Don Quixote quest because even if the Senate turns Republican in 2014, Obama has two more years to veto any Congressional attempt to kill it.
The GOP's goal also appears to make sure their business base sees Obamacare as a bane, as they spread misleading information, or commit sins of omissions in characterizing the law. It is a strategy banking on perpetuating ignorance. "It is too long to read; too hard to understand; so throw it all out."
They war whooped with glee when the President delayed one part until 2015: collecting a penalty that would be imposed on businesses with more than 50 employees that failed to offer insurance. It only affects those that did not already offer health insurance. That affects no more than 1 percent of all employees, 6 percent of all businesses (only 2 percent with over 200 employees). Everything else takes effect in 2014, including individual mandates and the exchanges.
Here is what the GOP would want to happen to all of us who are consumers if they could repeal Obamacare:
We would again be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, 30 million of us will not be able to get affordable insurance, college-age kids will no longer be required to be on their family's insurance, and once again there will be high deductibles for mammograms, prostate screening, and colonoscopies. Once again there will be bankrupting deductibles for our insurance or too high employer provided premiums. Obamacare premiums will be subsidized by income level to make costs affordable. With a repeal of Obamacare, those provisions go away.
Repeal Obamacare and insurance companies would be able to return to their prior practices of raking off more than 20 percent of premiums for their overhead and profits. Their virtual monopoly will continue. In fact, the exchanges will be the first truly free market for insurance since all premiums and all benefits will be open to large numbers of insurers and published side by side comparing apples with apples.
Businesses, too, will benefit since they can use the same public information to negotiate better deals for insurance they offer their employees and small businesses will have access to their own exchanges and group rates only offered to large businesses before
Here is how the competition in open market exchanges have already worked to drive down costs. In California and Oregon insurance premiums offered through the exchanges came in as much as 25 percent below the actuarial forecasts or prior published rates. This is also good for the cost of the program, since subsidies for lower income customers of the exchanges will also be lower.
Piously, some members of the GOP pay lip service to the consumer benefits they like. However, they offer no way to cover the 30 million uninsured or to pay for parts they like as covering pre-existing conditions. When you hear such pontifications, challenge them to tell you how they would pay for them. It is that latter problem Obamacare addresses and the critics of health-care reform who profess to care for consumers are blowing hot air.